Oracle Corp. (ORCL) (ORCL) is set to go before a
federal jury for the first time with claims that Google Inc. (GOOG) (GOOG)
stole some of the intellectual property behind its Android
Jury selection began today in San Francisco in Oracle’s
lawsuit alleging Google used Java programming language without
permission to develop Android software. The two-month trial will
feature testimony from the companies’ chief executive officers,
Larry Ellison and Larry Page, as well as damage experts
appointed by both sides and the presiding judge.
Oracle, the largest maker of database software, is seeking
$1 billion in damages and an injunction to block Google from
distributing Android, now running on more than 150 million
devices, unless it takes a license.
“Google’s management, at its very highest level, made the
decision to intentionally infringe Oracle’s Java-related
intellectual property, in stark contrast to virtually every
other industry competitor who have followed the rules for
decades,” David Boies, an Oracle attorney, said in an e-mail.
The first phase of the trial will deal with allegations of
copyright infringement; phase two will deal with patent claims
and in the last phase the jury will decide whether Oracle is
entitled to damages if the jury decides its intellectual
property was infringed.
Google lost a bid today to block Oracle from presenting in
the first two phases of the case evidence of certain financial
aspects of Oracle’s $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems
Inc., which developed Java.
Boies, who represented the U.S. government in its antitrust
case against Microsoft Corp. and served as lawyer for Vice
President Al Gore in the 2000 presidential recount litigation,
represented Oracle in 2010 in a copyright-infringement case
against SAP AG (SAP), the world’s largest maker of business
Boies helped persuade a jury to award Redwood City,
California-based Oracle $1.3 billion in damages in that case,
only to see the verdict thrown out by a judge who called it
“grossly excessive.” A new trial is scheduled for June.
Google, based in Mountain View, California, denies
infringing Oracle’s patents, saying the Oracle-owned technology
it’s accused of taking, called application programming
interfaces, or APIs, isn’t covered by copyright, and that its
use of parts of the Java platform was fair and legal.
“Computer programming languages are not copyrightable, and
neither are Oracle’s APIs,” Google attorney Robert Van Nest
said in a court filing. “Oracle accuses Google of infringement
for doing what the Oracle API specifications describe. That is a
classic attempt to improperly assert copyright over an idea
rather than expression.”
Settlement talks held April 2 and in September failed to
resolve the lawsuit.
Developed by Sun (JAVA) (JAVA) in the mid-1990s, Java lets developers
write programs that work across different operating systems and
on a variety of computers. It formed a key building block of the
World Wide Web and is widely used in business applications. The
software also runs on billions of mobile devices.
Google rejected an offer by Sun to pay $100 million in
royalties to use Java to develop Android, Van Nest said at a
hearing last year in the case. The proposed three-year “all-
in’” deal in 2006 was for a technology partnership to jointly
build Android, rather than for just a patent license, Van Nest
Google relies on Android, the most popular U.S. smartphone
operating system, to compete with Apple Inc. (AAPL) (AAPL) in the mobile-phone
market and lessen its dependence on traditional Web-search
Oracle also alleged that Google infringed the two Java
patents in the case that a court-appointed expert estimated are
worth $2.8 million in damages.
In its original lawsuit filed in 2010, Oracle claimed
Google was infringing seven patents. Only two haven’t been
removed from the case. Google won a ruling last year throwing
out Oracle’s $6.1 billion damage estimate. U.S. District Judge
William Alsup, who presides over the case, ruled that damage
estimates should start at $100 million, the 2006 offer from Sun.
The case is Oracle America Inc. v. Google Inc., 10-03561,
U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San
To contact the reporter on this story:
Karen Gullo in San Francisco federal court
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Michael Hytha at firstname.lastname@example.org.